Ouellet, 52, who joined the department in 1980 as an auxiliary officer and for many years served as night shift supervisor well out of the public eye, said he would be continuing Gagnon’s campaign to make him and his police department one with the community.
“This is a department on the right course and I look forward to continuing that,” Ouellet said.
Those were welcome words to City Councilor Alan Neale, School Superintendent Michele Robinson and Council on Aging Director Annmary Connor, who all spoke highly of Gagnon and Ouellet.
“You brought your face to the community and you became recognizable,” Neale said of Gagnon, adding that level of interaction wasn’t present in Amesbury when Gagnon took over.
Connor praised Ouellet for his involvement with senior citizens and she expected the relationship to grow even stronger.
“He can take the razzing from them, which is very important,” Connor said, jokingly.
Robinson said Gagnon did an admirable job establishing a strong link between his department and the schools, adding that such a partnership was critical to students and that Ouellet would maintain that link.
“We couldn’t afford a gap,” Robinson said.
Ouellet said once assuming full command, he would immediately begin his own succession plan but this time without a clear idea who might replace him, adding that there were several people already within the department he could see as someday being named chief.
Kezer and police officials said someone within the department would be picked to oversee detectives on a interim basis until a permanent candidate is named. It’s a process that will begin immediately but expected to take well into next year, according to police.